The virgin stretching beaches, lush green mangroves, migrating birds and turtles, the menacing estuarine crocodiles, meandering water courses, tranquil surrounding intercepted by the chirping of birds and the ever embracing nature, enthralls visitors from near and far off places to flock these unique places of tourist importance.
You have to fill up a form and take permit from the forest department. Entry fee for an adult is Rs.40 & we have been charged Rs.50 for a single Still Camera. Entry fee per adult will be Rs.25 if group strength is greater than 10. Video Camera charge is Rs.500 / unit.
Mangroves are salt tolerant, complex & dynamic eco-systems that occur in tropical and subtropical inter – tidal regions. Bhitarkanika is one such location of rich, lush green vibrant ecosystem lying in the estuarine region of Brahmani – Baitarani in the North – Eastern corner of Kendrapara district of Odisha. The area is intersected by a network of creeks with Bay of Bengal on the East. The alley between the meandering creeks and rivers, houses the second largest viable mangrove eco-system of India. Its 672 km² of mangrove forest & wetland, provides home to well over 215 species of birds including winter migrants from central – Asia and Europe. Giant salt water crocodiles and a variety of other wildlife inhabit this eco-system which is one of Asia’s most spectacular wildlife sanctuaries.
Bhitarkanika is named as per two odia words “Bhitar” meaning interior and “Kanika” meaning that which is extraordinaryily beautiful. The Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary, which bounds the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary to the east, was created in September 1997 and encompasses Gahirmatha beach and an adjacent portion of the Bay of Bengal. An area of 145 sq km.,the core area of Bhitarkanika Wild life Sanctuary, was declared as Bhitarkanika National Park in September 1998. Bhitarkanika comprises of Bhitarkanika National Park and Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary.It is one of the most famous wildlife sanctuaries, which are located in Odisha. It spreads over a far-flung area of a 650 square kilometer in Kendrapara district.
The 6 KM trail within the Bird Island was excellent. Scientists, scholars, nature lovers and tourists have abundant opportunity for thought and exploration. Avenues for water sport, cottages, marine voyages, nature`s trails etc are the major attractions of this place. In Odisha, the estuarine or Salt water crocodile (Crocodylus porosus) is restricted to the mangrove swamps of the Brahmani – Baitarani Delta of North – Eastern portion of the State which comes within the Bhitarkanika National Park. The area has been proposed to be included in the list of World Heritage Sites.
The park is home to the Saltwater Crocodile, White Crocodile, Indian Python, Black Ibis, Wild Pigs, Rhesus Monkeys, Chitals, Darters, Cobra, Water Monitor Lizard . Olive ridley sea-turtles nest on Gahirmatha & other nearby beaches. Bhitarkanika has one of the largest populations of endangered saltwater crocodile in India and is globally unique in that 10 percent of the adults exceed 6 m length. Nearly 1671 saltwater crocodiles inhabit the rivers and creeks.
Bhitarkanika National Park authorities imposed a three-month ban on entry of tourists into the park as it is the mating and nesting season of the salt-water crocodiles. The ban is effective from May 1 and will continue till July 31. Tourists will be restricted from entering crocodile-infested areas in Bhitarkanika, Dangamala and Ragadapati forest blocks under Bhitarkanika, Swain said. He said the sound of mechanized boats ferrying tourists and forest officials disturbs the crocodiles and makes people vulnerable to crocodile attacks. The female reptiles lay eggs in the mangrove forests near the park’s water bodies and guard them till the hatchlings emerge. Forest guards have been instructed to closely monitor the process as the eggs often fall prey to wild animals such as snakes, wild boars and fishing cats. Many local forest dwellers illegally enter forest areas to collect honey and wood. – TheTimesOfIndia (TOI)
After the safari (river cruise) we came back to Dangmal. We visited Nature Interpritation Centre. It was very interesting. We saw deers roaming here-n-there (Heard the number is more than 5000 – from a forest guard). As per the 2014 survey of mammals, first of its kind to be undertaken in the forest and wetland sites of the park; 1,872 spotted deers, 1,213 numbers of wild boars have made the forest areas their home. The census breakup of other mammals is monkeys – 1,522, jackals – 305, common langur – 39, otter – 38, sambar deer – 17, jungle cat – 11, fox – 10, Mongoose – 7, wolf- 7, fishing cats – 3, hyena – 12, according to the survey data.
The boat ride from Khola to Dangmal or vice versa is highly recommended. Khola is one of the gateways into the park. This is along an artificial creek and it passes through dense mangrove forest providing a glimpse into the estuarine ecosystem and its wealth of fauna. The best time to travel through this creek is early morning or before sunset.
Bhitarkanika has a very rich historical and cultural past. It used to be the hunting grounds of the erstwhile King of Kanika . The hunting towers and artificial watering holes can be seen at many places including Bhitarkanika trail and at Dangmal. It is also the home of medieval Hindu temples which can be found dotted throughout the sanctuary. But the major attraction remains the wildlife wealth.
There are 2-3 Ecoresorts there. Packaged tours can also be arranged with personal guide.